Reporter: Jay Ajayi (running back) was saying his knee wasn’t totally 100 percent last year when he was running and he felt like he maybe added a couple of extra pounds and has now lost it, trimmed back down and feels like he is in much better shape, finally healthy. What do you expect from him this year?
Petersen: Yeah, he is another guy, I don’t really know. You know, everybody wants to anoint him as the next Walter Peyton already and he has had a few carries. But I’m excited; Jay has a lot of potential but he had a knee injury that needs to stay healthy. He will get a bigger chance obviously than he has in the past. We'll see if consistently he can make some big plays.
Reporter:What does it do, you have a main guy but you also give other guys a lot of carries in your offense, what does it do for him next year when had 70-something carries last year, how does it help him for this year?
Petersen: Well, there is no substitute for experience. So all of that is going to help him a lot. He knows our system pretty well. And so, he should be another guy. We are all anxious to see what he is going to do. I think it's important that we have some other backs. I think it's important that those guys, I don't think any one back can do it. There is too much pounding at that position and the season is too long for us to stay healthy through, we have to have some other guys in there. I'm excited about that as well. I think it will be a competitive backfield.
Reporter: Other than Jay there is very little experience there. Do you feel like you know what you're going to get out of those guys or do you have to throw them out there and see what happens?
Petersen:I think Jack Fields, you know playing as a freshman. He is a very focused, hard working guy, that I think it’s just a matter of time before he shines. I don't know what the time table is, but I think he is going to do some good things. Devan Demas redshirted last year and then Derrick Thomas coming in, I think there are some guys, Charles Bertoli is a guy that has done some things for us back there and then, you know, Aaron Baltazar coming in. So there are some guys there that I'm excited to see them compete. Did I forget anybody? There are a few guys.
Reporter: Tight end has probably been the most injured position for you over the year. But it looks like (tight end) Gabe Linehan is back to full strength?
Petersen: Yeah, and again we will see, he didn’t do anything really in the spring, but since spring, or maybe he did do a little something in the spring, since then he has been fairly healthy. I don't know what it is, maybe we will just play with all wide receivers so we don't have to worry about tight ends getting hurt. Just kidding tight ends.
Reporter: Do you have enough to be able to do what you guys like to do?
Petersen: Well, we will see. I think so. I do, I think, you know, some of the new wrinkles we are working with, we do. But I think the one thing about our system is there is flexibility there. So if guys aren't healthy and don’t have it, we can head in a different direction.
Reporter: Do you think Jake Roh (freshman tight end from Chaparral High in Scottsdale, Ariz.) could play?
Petersen: Yeah. Hey, I think all freshman are going to be looked at extremely hard, certainly if you just look at the numbers, for sure. We've said this before, it is here and now. Who can help us now? You'd like to think, yeah we'd love to redshirt everybody (freshman), and I really would, but you just don’t have that type of depth. If you play a guy, you could injured down the road, redhisrt then. And so I think if a guy is ready to play, you go.
Reporter:This is probably the first time in a long time you don't have anybody who is really specifically just a fullback on your roster anymore. Has that gone away, or do you still look for those guys a little bit?
Petersen: Yeah, the tight ends have been able to do it, so just in terms of personnel things, you bring a fullback in the game and then everybody knows, not everybody the defense knows, 'ok, this is this personnel.' So you need some guys with some flexibility. It makes it harder on the defense. Is he playing tight end, is he playing full back or wide receiver? You get a guy like Dan Paul, who is a special, unique, true fullback that is a really good athlete, then you figure out some things for him.
Reporter: Are there even fullbacks out there anymore with the way offenses have gone? Are there kids out there to recruit?
Petersen: They are rare.
Reporter: I talked with Charles a little bit about being a senior and trying to impress all of the younger guys, you know what it means to come through this program. We talked about your three rules, which sound pretty simple, but he said they are a little harder to follow then they sound like. You have obviously had to discipline some guys. I just wonder, how all that plays into what you are trying to build here?
Petersen: What do you mean?
Reporter: The rules, and you know we hear a lot about players being arrested as freshman, sometimes they get suspended for a game or two. There are guys who have been dismissed who haven't found their way onto the police blotter, but they haven't followed your rules.
Petersen: So it's just, you know, I don't know. I don't even know what to say. But we could talk all day on it. We have some simple rules that if you just really followed those it would be easy.But it is easier said than done. But I think this: It is a privilege to play college football. I believe that through and through. It is a privilege to coach college football. And with that privilege is going to come responsibility. I believe that so, so strongly. And so that means you are going to have to give up other things and you have to conduct yourself in a certain way. You’re not going to be able to be the normal college student guy, you’re just not. And if you're going to be that guy, then go somewhere else. And that is hard. It's hard. It is easier said than done. I say this all the time, but I really think people need to think about this. Think if you had a family. Think about your family and all of the issues that go on. Okay, now put 100 boys 18-22, you know, that’s what it is. So really when you are probably playing the percentages we are doing good. You know, so, the thing I feel bad about, and I think college football in general, there are so many really good kids. You saw them from different teams here. I think, you know, two thirds of them, or even higher, nine tenths of them are really good kids that just get it. The negative things always make the headlines. it's that old adage that you spend 90 percent of the time on 10 percent of the problems. I mean, you guys to do, that’s what makes the news.
Reporter: Do you think you, as you have become more established in your career, do you think that leash has gotten shorter? As you have learned to deal with things, or if you don't deal with them they fester, and maybe your leash has gotten shorter?
Petersen: I don’t really feel like the leash has gotten shorter.You know, I would hope that as you get older, you know I'm a pretty black and white guy, maybe sometimes too much for my own good. But you hope that maybe when you get older that you have more flexibility and more reason-ability (sic). So I keep those in my mind. I'm trying to be fair (towards players). But I’m trying to be fair toward our team, our program and the community. And it's like... And it's not like...I spend more of my time talking about these things (with the team) than I ever have. So, I think that is where maybe sometimes you do have a little shorter (leash). If we're going to spend more time and you're not going to hear these things...
Reporter: And mostly Charles (Leno) said, the older guys that are still here, can pretty much figure it out, but the younger guys it takes a little while.
Petersen: It is usually the first two years, but it is hard. It is a fine line because you have kids, and I have one going to school, too, and you get it. So when they come up here, can they handle the freedom from being away from their family? There are going to be those kids who can’t do it. Then you have the other side, can they handle the structure? So it's a balance. Some guys can’t handle the structure, some guys can’t handle the freedom. It’s usually the young guys. It takes them a minute to figure it out, and that is usually where the majority of the issues are.
Reporter: And you obviously put so much emphasis on character and you know, a complete person when you are recruiting, and then to go through that whole process and then you have to let someone go after a year or two has to be frustrating.
Petersen: Extremely. I mean, at so many different levels. They haven’t heard you, you haven’t gotten to them. In some ways they have heard you and they do get it. I have had in-depth conversations with some of these guys where it’s like, 'coach, I hear ya.' But it’s about making a good choice after a good choice, but then you know, they make some good choices in their mind and then a bad choice. And one bad choice can cost you. So, we won’t change. I always tell these guys, we aren’t changing. So, you have to figure it out. Hopefully, you don’t have to change so much. Hopefully we didn't recruit the wrong guy. That's our big thing, we want to recruit the right guy, guys that fit, that don’t have to change a lot, that get it already and we can just emphasize those things.
Reporter: Charles said the three rules are, be on time, finish everything and make good decisions.
Petersen: Yep, it's be early, make good decisions. And you know what, you can say it a couple of different ways, like make good decisions. I mean, it sounds so simple and you can gloss over them. You know, being on time, we make such a huge deal about it.It's a very important thing to us. It has to do with respect, respect for yourself and respect for other people. So we have a whole thing on that so it sounds simple. Make good decisions. I mean, that is, we can talk five hours on that, but it can be substituted for protect the program, protect your team, protect yourself, protect what has gone on here in the past, but it call comes back to making good decisions.
Reporter: (Charles Leno) said that is the toughest one. Finishing everything can be tough some times because physically you don;t want to do it. You have to fight through that, but being on time, he said you can be early.
Petersen: They are all very, they seem so ridiculously simple, but when you think about them, most people can’t finish things in life. We talk about Joe Southwick. You know, it would have been very easy for him not to finish. You know, we talk about finish stronger than you started with everything that you’ve got, your focus, your time, your energy, everything. Well, everybody is great at setting goals in life, you know, but no one can finish them. And so you know, there is more to these three little simple things and if we could do those simple things, decision things... They are not just rules, they are life skills. If they can get those it will help them as they go on.